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Steven Gene Axelrod

January 8, 1938 August 29, 2023
Steven Gene Axelrod
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Obituary for Steven Gene Axelrod

Steven Gene Axelrod, age 85, passed away at 1:40 PM on Tuesday August 29, 2023, with family by his side.

Steve was born in Peoria, Illinois on January 8, 1938, to Earl and Natalie (Kohn) Axelrod. Surviving is his loving wife of nearly 59 years, Linda (Hazzard) Axelrod and their children David (Deborah) Axelrod and Julie (Harry) Hodges. Also surviving are his brother, Gary Axelrod, grandchildren Tyler (Caroline) Hodges, Alissa (Ryan) Harkins, Brandon (Ashley) Axelrod, Jonathan (Meghan) Axelrod, and Lindsey (Derek) Hobbick. Steve and Linda shared the joy of their 10 great-grandchildren as well, all of whom cherished him. Steve was loved dearly by those he touched with his distinct personality. His influence sculpted the lives of many friends, colleagues, students, and athletes where he spent his life serving.

Steve graduated from Peoria Central High School, class of 1955. He was a multi-sport athlete with high accomplishments in football, wrestling, and baseball. Following his high school education, Steve briefly wrestled for Bradley University, where he was compelled to join the United States Army Reserves. Because of his incredible athleticism, he was a member of the United States Army baseball team. After 6 months of active duty, he was honorably discharged to continue his education at Eureka College. While earning his bachelor’s degree in physical education, he participated in football and track, making life-long friends. He later earned his master’s degree in cultural studies from Governor’s State University.

His teaching career began in Niles, IL, followed by Wilmington High School where he coached both football and wrestling. Two years later, he began teaching and coaching at Tinley Park High School, where he finished his professional career after 30 years. He taught history, social studies, physical education, health, and driver’s education. The highlights of his career include having Vice President Ford come speak at the high school to recognize their two year winning streak in football, coaching the 1986 4A state champion football team, having teams place in the top 10 of the IHSA wrestling finals 3 times, coaching many wrestlers to individual success in state championship tournaments, and being named Coach of the Year in 1977. Finishing his wrestling coaching career with a record of 121-53-3, Steve was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame in 2014. Among his highly decorated coaching career at Tinley Park lies his greatest accomplishment, meeting his wife Linda, who taught Biology and French.

Steve’s retirement years were spent with his beloved wife, Linda, enjoying lake life, friends, and family. After moving to East Peoria in 1999 to be near his family, Steve volunteered at OSF St. Francis Medical Center and the GHAA baseball league. His days were filled by playing golf, watching football, and spending as much time with his grandkids as possible, attending their various sports and activities.

A memorial service will be held Friday, October 6th from 5:00-7:00 pm at the Monte Cristo Room in Germantown Hills for friends and family to honor this incredible man. Cremation rites have been accorded. On October 7th, the family will lay him to rest at Chapel Hill Cemetery in Oak Lawn, IL.

The Cremation Society of Mid-Illinois Co. Pekin/Peoria is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be made at

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